Stan Natchez feels strongly about communicating contemporary Native American philosophy purged of any romantic or stereotypical idealism. By documenting, literally and figuratively, the history of Native Americans vs. today’s modern world his has become a singular, powerful voice in the world of contemporary fine art.
With a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and a master’s degree in Education, Natchez took a circuitous route to his current artistic success and renown. Each stage provided him with important insights that would fuel his future artistic statements. Natchez taught for 19 years, including seven years in Colorado public schools and serving for ten years as Department Chair of Humanities at a private school in Northern Arizona. He also served as Editorial Advisor and Director of Educational Programs at Native Peoples Magazine. Always a creative child while growing up in Los Angeles, it was his participation in Native American dances that led him to painting.
“In the white man’s world, if you want to get an education, you go to college,” Natchez explains. “In the Indian way, if you want to get knowledge, you go through ceremonies. I am a California Indian (Tataviam, “the people who face the sun”) and all our ceremonies are gone. But I was fortunate enough to travel throughout the United States and meet people who lived in tribes that had ceremonies and invited me in.” Performing traditional Native American dances throughout Europe and the U.S., Natchez developed a fine eye for both color and composition from the beadwork he created for his regalia. By learning from elders of many tribes during these travels, he gives credit to this artistic medium for building in him a stronger sense of cultural self-esteem.
"I feel fortunate for having been raised in the city because of the perspective it gave me on modern life,” Stan Natchez observes. “However, without an awareness of our traditional heritage, we as Native Americans have no identity. By taking the best of both worlds, the modern and the traditional, we are better able to find balance in our lives."
The philosophies and techniques of these two worlds have allowed Stan Natchez to achieve a complex harmony in his work, works that resonate with irony - in a distinctive Neo-Pop style. His unique and often dramatic mixed-media paintings exhibit a thoroughly inventive use of materials: Native American imagery, of warriors, couples and many notable chiefs, in styles that range from ledger art to cubism, may be painted on authentic vintage documents, actual U.S. currency, gold leaf, yellow pages, comic book pages or photo silkscreened enlargements of currency, period stamps or certificates. When the works are embellished with detailed beadwork it is the artist’s own.
The vibrant and culturally relevant paintings of Stan Natchez have been exhibited in (and are held in the permanent collections of) Boston Fine Arts Museum, Santa Fe Fine Arts Museum, Booth Western Art Museum, Albuquerque Fine Arts Museum, Smithsonian Institute and the Autry Museum of Western Art. Stan Natchez has had his paintings exhibited in: Denmark, England, Germany, Australia, a Latin American tour, and countless U.S. cities.